In August I joined The Things Network. My friend Wienke and I had always wanted to work together. My experience with IoT was pretty much limited to a single hackathon, but I could actually use this to my advantage to spot barriers and help build a developer friendly platform. I created a Jekyll-based documentation site, made suggestions to improve the developer experience of SDKs and UIs, started an ambassador program to scale documentation and SDKs, ran several workshops and more. I can’t believe it has only been half a year!
“We had the honor to have Fokke with us at The Things Network when we setup our developer support and communication. Fokke is a guy that hurts you in a good way. He can pinpoint problems you are wishing that are not there. Something you have postponed but you know needs attention now. Especially with building developer friendly products it is so important that your product is self service. Fokke does an amazing job in making the things that are obvious to you, also obvious to your customers.”
— Wienke Giezeman
Hardware didn’t grow on me
With the Kickstarter products expected to ship this month, it is time for me to move on. I love the team, I’ve learned a lot, but working with hardware didn’t manage to grow on me. That was OK for what I’ve done so far, but for a long-term commitment and more outgoing role that wouldn’t work for me. I’m proud of the progress we made in the last two quarters. Everything is set for 2017 to be an amazing year for The Things Network!
Although The Things Network has its office in Amsterdam, I continued to work from home as I did at Appcelerator (based in San José, CA) and only dropped by every other week or so. I’ve become a huge fan of working remote. I find myself being more productive, but also less stressed working remote, and I’m not the only one. Remote working arrangements become increasingly common and I bet my kids will laugh at the idea to commute for hours only to sit behind a desk and work on a computer much like, or even on the laptop you brought with you. Speaking of kids, if it wasn’t for their school, you’d probably find me at Hacker Paradise or something like that all year! ?
I’ve been following several companies that have been pioneering remote work and soaked in their articles and books, including 37signal’s Remote and The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work by Zapier. I also followed sites that list remote jobs specifically like We Work Remotely and Remote OK.
Then, the following intro landed in my mailbox:
We’re looking for someone who loves helping people, solving tricky technical challenges, and developing internal tools to join us as our second dedicated support engineer. If you love interacting with people on a daily basis to help them optimize their work just as much as you love diving deep into code to build features and squash bugs, please read on!
I never thought about a role as Support Engineer, but the description pretty much summed up what I did at Appcelerator and I consider optimize a personal synonym. So the answer to the question: YES!
Transparent Hiring Process
Something else I like about companies that lead in remote work is their transparency. Companies that do remote well, not only have great internal communication, but also external. Why hide what makes your culture great? This is what leads to books like the ones I mentioned, but also Zapier’s hiring process is a great example.
It only took 3 weeks from applying through a simple form (no cover letter ?) to accepting the job offer and all along I was kept me up to date on the progress in a personal and transparent way. Who wouldn’t want to work for such a company?!
Working remote doesn’t mean you don’t like people or work in a team. Companies that do remote well understand that meeting face to face has its place to build a strong team. They invest – e.g. the money they save on an office – in company retreats. So does Zapier and I look forward to join the team for the next retreat end of January. It looks like it will be a ton of fun!
I’m honored to join the team of founders Mike, Wade and Bryan, who were recently selected for Forbe’s 30 Under 30. I look forward to look back on my first year with the same satisfaction as my colleague Bruno recently did!